MARK JOYCE knocked world No 1 Judd Trump out of the UK Championship last night – then revealed how he has battled back after suffering a horrific attack.
The 29-year-old’s snooker career looked bright after reaching the quarter-finals of the UK Championship two years ago.
But just a couple of weeks after beating Trump and fellow top-16 player Ali Carter on his way to the last eight, Walsall potter Joyce was attacked on a night out and suffered a fractured eye socket and fractured elbow.
It left him sidelined for four months, and even when he did return, the world No 50 struggled to regain his form on the circuit in 2011.
But after battling through qualifiers for the williamhill.com UK Championship, the former amateur champion yesterday produced the best result of his career by beating defending champion and current world No 1 Trump 6-5.
“To my mind my world ranking’s a false one,” said Joyce, who had climbed to No 42 in the world before his attack.
“I think I am a better player than that but you have to go out and get the results to prove it.
“Just after the UK Championship two years ago I got attacked, had a fractured elbow and a fractured eye socket, which ruined the rest of that season
“Physically it cost me four months, but mentally it probably cost me a lot longer. I think I can count on one hand how many matches I won in 2011.
“Hopefully I can beat Ali again and progress even further.
“I’m over the moon; it wasn’t a vintage performance by any means but it’s the hardest game in the world when you’re under pressure – I’m still shaking now to be honest.”
Trump had led 5-2, needing just one more frame to set-up a second round meeting tomorrow with Carter, but slumped to a shock defeat in a gruelling five-hour battle.
Trump said: “I should never play that bad. You’ll never see another world No 1 play as badly as that.
“I had a chance to clear at 5-2 and I had a kick and from then on nothing went right and I just didn’t play well.
“I felt like I was going to play well but then he dragged me down at the start.
“It’s disappointing to play that badly but fair play to Mark, he had to come from behind.
“It’s just a bad performance. It was going to come sooner or later.
“He played all right in the last four frames but he’ll have to raise his game a lot to get close to Ali Carter.”
Joining Trump among the first-round casualties was veteran Steve Davis, competing in his 33rd UK finals.
At 55, Davis could be forgiven for wanting to settle down with carpet slippers and weekend newspaper on a wintry Sunday afternoon.
But the six-times world champion – who won the last of his record haul of UK titles 25 years ago – has no intention of hanging up his cue just yet. He is just happy to keep his world ranking, currently 48, below his age.
Simply reaching the televised stages in York yesterday was a feat, having battled through qualifiers with wins over Pankaj Advani and Jamie Burnett.
But yesterday Davis came up against world No 14 Carter, who lost out in the World Championship final at the Crucible in May, and lost 6-2.
Defeat means Davis will swap his cue for a microphone as part of the BBC commentary team camped at the Barbican.
“I didn’t really perform well enough,” admitted Davis. “It was a pretty easy afternoon for Ali – he is a potential winner of the tournament. I shouldn’t get too upset after I qualified.”
Trump’s defeat means Mark Selby – who beat Michael White 6-3 in his opening match – can reclaim the No 1 ranking by reaching Sunday’s final, and opens up the tournament for former world champion John Higgins.
The Scotsman beat Michael Holt 6-3 in his first-round match to set-up a meeting with Mark Davis on Wednesday.
Trump and 37-year-old Higgins have each claimed major titles in China this season, and were on opposite sides of the draw.
“Judd’s going to be at the top of the game for the next 10 years, easy, so it’s up to myself to try to stay there and produce better form,” said Higgins, bidding to win a fourth UK title to add to his four world triumphs.
“Not being big-headed, but it will happen in more tournaments than not. If I put the work in, I’ll come through and do pretty decent. I think I’m still good enough to compete for the next few years.”
There were defeats for Sheffield-based Ding Junhui and Cao Yupeng. Former UK champion Ding’s poor form dragged on as he lost 6-4 to Welshman Ryan Day, while Cao tumbled out 6-1 against 40-year-old Mark Davis.
Former world champions Shaun Murphy and Graeme Dott secured safe passage to the second round. Murphy beat Gloucester’s Robert Milkins 6-3, and Dott edged out Martin Gould 6-5.
Special Ticket Offer:
Buy an adult ticket for any evening session today, tomorrow or Wednesday this week and get another ticket for the same session free.
To claim this offer call 0844 854 2757 and quote BOGOF when booking tickets. Tickets must be booked by midnight tonight.